The Eye of the Beholder

This post is dedicated to my father: The Engineer.

My dad is a civil engineer with a expertise in roads. For him, there's a certain allure to any conversation where he can say things like "asphalt" or "aggregate" or better yet, "aggregate-asphalt." He and my mom are annual attendants of "The Concrete Banquet."

It was he who showed me that those orange and white barricades cordoning off stretches of pavement are eminently surmountable obstacles, put up for the likes of mere civilians (a lesson which has gotten me into trouble). And if you leave him alone in a strange city, my father will sniff out any major construction project within a mile radius, make friends with the guys in hardhats, and be invited by their foreman to come on-site to get an up-close look and explanation of their work. When you rejoin him a mere ten minutes later, there he is, behind a stretch of yellow caution tape, looking right at home.

So as I was walking along Regent's Canal this morning, a scenic waterway where rustic boats glide under brick footbridges, and quaint waterfront cafes are springing up to accommodate those who'd like a repast to sustain their bird watching, I had to laugh.

There, stopped on the path, was an older English gent in a kelly green cardigan sweater and a proper blue cap, arms outstretched, camera in-hand.

But he wasn't taking a picture of the swans collecting near the branches of the willow tree swaying in the water, or of the bobbing row of primary colored barges, tethered to the dock.

No, when I followed the arc of his lens, I saw what had moved him to pause for a photograph: a large crane, glinting in the morning sun.

I smiled knowingly as I passed him by. My dad would likely have struck up a conversation. Since while others may not have lifted their gaze above the charming valley of that historic canal, such a glorious scene would never have escaped the notice of an engineer.

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